Monday, October 1, 2007

Stop Pretending You Know Me

So I'm on Netflix, because everyone keeps telling how good the Ken Burns "War" documentary is. I'm thinking I'll just get it on DVD when the time comes, but before I do, I really want to finally see that Spike Lee documentary on Hurricane Katrina. In fact, it might be interesting to compare the two.

(It's already interesting to me that one is getting such good buzz, while the other, also highly acclaimed, never really did.)

(It's also interesting that we don't have a definitive number from Hurricane Katrina that sticks in the national consciousness like "9/11." Can anyone tell me how many people died in Hurricane Katrina? Anyway...)

So I find the Spike Lee series, "When the Levees Broke." I add it to my Queue. Then I get one of those, "You might also enjoy" thingies. Hey, "Who Killed the Electric Car"! A work colleague has told me that's a must see. Okay, I'll add it.

Click.

Now what? Ten other documentaries I might enjoy? Okay, I'm annoyed.

Maybe I'm in the one percent of people who feel this way, but how dare you. How dare you assume to know my tastes. How dare you take one decision I make and try to shove me into a demographic set. You think I'm that simple, that predicable, that one-dimensional? I'm going to order some vampire flick just to f*** you up, you arrogant piece of code!

You find this kind of marketing everywhere for a good reason. It works. Still, I wonder if in our quest to so perfectly tag people as consumers, they will one day purposely reject those efforts as a way of enforcing (or even creating) their individuality. Frankly, I hope so.

As an experiment while I was still on Netflix, I found the movie, "Hell House" and added it to my Queue. A screen popped up: Would I like to see "Secrets of the Serpent" or "Dawn of the Dead?"

Hah! The system is flawed. "Hell House" is a documentary about a church near Dallas that offers "a multimedia fire-and-brimstone performance designed to give its audiences a glimpse of what awaits those who stray from the path of a strict Christian life." In other words, a haunted house designed to show what hell is like and scare people into joining a church.

Now THAT's marketing.

P.S. It should have asked me if I wanted to see "Jesus Camp" or "Marjoe."

3 comments:

Mike said...

Glad you were able to tag the buggers. I think they gave up suggesting things to me when I Netflixed (I LOVE that new verb, even though "rented" would be more accurate) Bergman's "The Silence" followed by "The Gnome Mobile."

Wha--?

Scott said...

Actually I think the code may be smarter than you think. It selected Secret of the Serpents, a sort documentary of a Davinci Code-esque religious cult and combined that with Dawn of the Dead... a classic study in horror in action on a general societal level. Combine those two and you more or less have a blending of two movies that directly flow logically and almost academically from the search for "Hell House".

The true horror is that the algorithm may be smarter than all of us.

Vegas Gopher said...

Reminds me of a line from Maher's show last week -- if you buy Bush's new fawning biography on Amazon, the website says you might also like a 10-lb. bag of bullshit.